10 Website Design Tips to Make Your Business Website Successful

WEBSITES AND-BRANDING

How do you de­sign a suc­cess­ful web­site for your busi­ness?

It’s an im­por­tant ques­tion for any busi­ness since your web­site will serve as the face of your com­pany, invit­ing cus­tomers to find out more about you and your prod­ucts and ser­vices, and prompt­ing po­ten­tial clients to con­tact you di­rectly.

When it comes to de­sign­ing your web­site, there are sev­eral things you’ll want to keep in mind to en­sure that it’s suc­cess­ful, such as your user ex­pe­ri­ence (UX), use of calls-to-ac­tion (CTA’s) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This is all be­cause the de­sign and func­tion­al­ity of your web­site will de­ter­mine whether or not po­ten­tial cus­tomers stay on your site.

Whether you have been think­ing about cre­at­ing a web­site or have al­ready started de­sign­ing one, these 10 tips can help you en­sure your web­site is suc­cess­ful.

1) Choose the right plat­form

Before you can start de­sign­ing, you have to de­cide what kind of plat­form you’re go­ing to build your web­site on. WordPress and Squarespace are both pop­u­lar op­tions that pro­vide af­ford­able, easy-to-use tem­plates—but they’re not nec­es­sar­ily right for every busi­ness. There are a few dis­tinct op­tions; you have a com­pletely cus­tom HTML web­site, a drag-and-drop ed­i­tor (like Squarespace) or some­thing in be­tween the two, such as Webflow.

This de­ci­sion will de­pend a lot on whether you or your team in­tend to build the web­site your­self or have a pro­fes­sional do it, and if you choose the DIY route, what your skill level is like.

It’s also im­por­tant to think about your goals when mak­ing this de­ci­sion; do you want a site that al­lows you to do a lot of cus­tomi­sa­tions? Or are you just look­ing for some­thing sim­ple? For ex­am­ple, if you need to up­date your con­tent reg­u­larly or up­load reg­u­lar blogs you will need some­thing that has a Content Management System (CMS) in the back end. You could also con­sider what plat­forms your com­peti­tors have al­ready cho­sen? Keep all of these things in mind, and look into each plat­for­m’s strengths and weak­nesses be­fore set­tling on a fi­nal op­tion.

2) Create user per­sonas

As a gen­eral rule, most busi­nesses should have at least one per­sona rep­re­sent­ing their pri­mary tar­get au­di­ence. This is of­ten your best cus­tomer (the buyer or user who’s go­ing to pur­chase or use your prod­uct).

You should try to de­fine your per­sonas as specif­i­cally as pos­si­ble: where they live, what they do for work, what their hob­bies are, how old they are and so on. The more you know about these peo­ple and what makes them tick, the bet­ter you’ll be able to tai­lor your web­site ex­pe­ri­ence, mes­sag­ing and con­tent. And al­though it can be tempt­ing to cre­ate a hand­ful of re­ally de­tailed per­sonas, it’s best to aim for two or three at most; any more than that will prob­a­bly end up con­fus­ing you more than any­thing else.

The im­por­tance of user per­sonas in web de­sign is huge! The closer you can get to mim­ic­k­ing your users’ be­hav­iours, needs and wants when you’re de­sign­ing your web­site, the eas­ier for you and your team to pro­duce a qual­ity end prod­uct. You’ll be cre­at­ing a dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence that feels like it was tai­lor-made for each in­di­vid­ual vis­i­tor.

Below you can see WorkingMouse’s process for Web Design and how the ‘Understand’ phase at the be­gin­ning is crit­i­cal for the suc­cess over­all.

An illustrated timeline of WorkingMouses web design process. Understand, Ideate, Review, Tidy up, Showcase, Development, Review, Tidy up, Release.

3) Offer value up­front

Based on your user per­sonas, fig­ure out what kind of in­for­ma­tion your vis­i­tors are look­ing for and put it front and cen­tre. Don’t be tempted to use your web­site as a show­case for all your work on the home­page, or you will over­whelm your vis­i­tors. Keep it sim­ple: choose one main pur­pose for your web­site, whether that’s show­cas­ing some se­lect im­ages from past pro­jects or sell­ing an on­line course. Presenting too much in­for­ma­tion can make it dif­fi­cult for users to find ex­actly what they’re look­ing for (the value piece), while also mak­ing your web­site feel clut­tered and over­whelm­ing.

Presenting value up­front on your web­site will also en­sure that users re­main en­gaged since it pre­vents them from im­me­di­ately click­ing away once they’ve had a quick glance at what you’re of­fer­ing. You want them to stick around and find out just how awe­some your prod­ucts or ser­vices are!

You may find The Lean UX Canvas help­ful to iden­tify your user and busi­ness needs.

4) Keep it sim­ple

You want a suc­cess­ful web­site, right? Then you should prob­a­bly make it easy for users to find what they’re look­ing for. That’s not just my opin­ion, it’s right there in the data. According to a study by Google, 53% of vis­i­tors will leave your mo­bile site if your page takes longer than 3 sec­onds to load. Another re­port found that 88% of vis­i­tors won’t re­visit sites that they’ve had a neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence with (read: are frus­trat­ing or dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate).

The proof is in the pud­ding with this one, folks.

Keep your de­sign sim­ple and use clear nav­i­ga­tion so that vis­i­tors can find what they need to (quickly) and then get back to look­ing up kale salad recipes.

A quote block that reads "According to a study by Google, 53% of visitors will leave your mobile site if your page takes longer than 3 seconds to load."

5) Use high-qual­ity im­ages and video

Whether you’re blog­ging about your lat­est prod­uct re­lease or writ­ing a land­ing page for an email cam­paign, us­ing high-qual­ity im­ages and video is an ef­fec­tive way to get your point across. Consumers these days are in­un­dated with con­tent. If they see that your web­site is­n’t run­ning at full steam, they’ll quickly move on—which means fewer leads, fewer clicks, and ul­ti­mately lower sales.

It’s al­ways best to in­clude high-qual­ity, cus­tom pho­tos and videos, but there are lots of al­ter­na­tives where small busi­nesses can find im­ages if they don’t have the means of cre­at­ing their own. Places like Unsplash and Pexels sup­ply copy­right-free im­ages (and video!) for this ex­act pur­pose. It’s also worth not­ing that high-qual­ity does­n’t have to mean 50MB per im­age ei­ther (because this will greatly im­pact the per­for­mance and load-time of your web­site). There are plenty of ways to quickly re­size & op­ti­mise your im­ages, with­out pix­e­lat­ing them (you could use a free on­line ser­vice such as tinypng!)

6) Grab at­ten­tion with de­sign el­e­ments

As you’re putting to­gether your site, think about ways that you can use el­e­ments of de­sign to cap­ture and keep your read­ers’ at­ten­tion. Emphasise key­words with colours, icons, or other graph­i­cal el­e­ments that get your read­ers’ eyes where you want them. Remember too that get­ting peo­ple onto your site is only half of your job; keep­ing them there is just as im­por­tant.

An illustration of cyclinders and spheres balancing on top of a rectangle illustrationg web design principles: balance, colour, contrast, dominance, hierachy, proximity, rhythym & space.

Use plenty of head­ers and sub­head­ers through­out to break up text so it does­n’t be­come an un­read­able wall of in­for­ma­tion. Short para­graphs make for easy read­ing and en­cour­age a user to stick around a lit­tle longer. People read dif­fer­ently on­line than they do in print mag­a­zines or books, so break up walls of text with lists, bul­leted points, im­ages and any­thing else you think will help you keep read­ers’ at­ten­tion.

And if you ever want things on your web­site or blog de­sign click­able, make sure they look like they are click­able so users know what kind of be­hav­iour is ex­pected from them. A visit to your web­site should­n’t feel like work.

7) Write an en­gag­ing head­line

Create an en­gag­ing head­line that com­pels your vis­i­tors to read on. Don’t just write, ‘Software Development Agency’. That is too vague and does­n’t grab read­ers’ at­ten­tion like ‘Creating suc­cess­ful soft­ware prod­ucts that take your busi­ness to the next lev­el’ does! This will help peo­ple click through and read more of your con­tent.

The point of an on­line busi­ness is traf­fic and in­bound links, so you want them in­ter­ested enough in what you have to say that they keep read­ing. A dull or con­fus­ing head­line could drive away po­ten­tial read­ers and maybe even hurt your SEO scores (which search en­gines use to rank web pages - we’ll talk about this more later). If you cap­ture their in­ter­est right away with a com­pelling head­line, then they are far more likely to stay on your web­site and en­gage with more of your con­tent.

8) Provide clear calls to ac­tion

One of your main goals as a web­site owner is prob­a­bly to make money, but that can’t hap­pen if peo­ple don’t take ac­tion when they visit your site. A clear call-to-ac­tion (CTA) is es­sen­tial for get­ting your vis­i­tors to do what you want them to do.

Include CTAs above-the-fold (in the area of the screen vis­i­ble be­fore you be­gin scrolling) so new vis­i­tors im­me­di­ately know how to en­gage with your web­site. For ex­am­ple, if you want them to sign up for a newslet­ter, of­fer an ‘Email me up­dates’ CTA. If you want them to down­load an eBook or whitepa­per, you could in­clude links di­rectly to these re­sources be­low your pri­mary im­age.

It’s not al­ways easy bal­anc­ing gain­ing in­ter­est and avoid­ing spammy links and pop-ups, but keep at it be­cause each time some­one clicks through on one of your CTAs it’s an­other po­ten­tial lead who’s just a lit­tle bit closer to be­com­ing a cus­tomer!

A GIF of a man beckoning with his hand that reads "come on"

9) Test con­ver­sions

When de­sign­ing a web­site, one of your top pri­or­i­ties should be mak­ing sure that po­ten­tial cus­tomers can con­vert on it. This means en­sur­ing that your site is well-op­ti­mised for con­ver­sions and that it’s built around goals such as lead gen­er­a­tion or sales. Once you’ve iden­ti­fied your goals, make sure you’re fol­low­ing best prac­tices for cre­at­ing con­ver­sion-fo­cused web pages. Then it’s time to test them!

You can test your con­ver­sions by build­ing an A/B test into your web­site (or at least find­ing a tool that does, such as HubSpot). The ex­act na­ture of these tests de­pends on what kind of goal you have in mind but gen­er­ally speak­ing, an A/B test sim­ply com­pares two dif­fer­ent ver­sions of a page (e.g., dif­fer­ent colours, calls to ac­tion, copy) to de­ter­mine which per­forms bet­ter. These tests are easy and in­ex­pen­sive ways to find out what works best with your au­di­ence. There’s no bet­ter way to un­der­stand if what you’ve de­signed works than ac­tu­ally see­ing how peo­ple in­ter­act with it in real life!

10) Use SEO tools ef­fec­tively

A solid foun­da­tion of search en­gine op­ti­mi­sa­tion (SEO) knowl­edge is a must-have if you want your web­site de­sign ef­forts to pay off. Even if your de­sign is eye-catch­ing and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing, it’s not go­ing to do you any good un­less peo­ple find your site through Google and other search en­gines.

For best re­sults, learn how SEO tools can be in­te­grated into your web de­sign work­flow. When done cor­rectly, they will help in­crease your site’s rank­ing in search rank­ings. If done in­cor­rectly, how­ever, you run the risk of be­ing pe­nalised by these same search en­gines for im­ple­ment­ing black hat SEO tac­tics that aren’t al­lowed (and aren’t ef­fec­tive).

Bonus tip!

Finally, don’t for­get to check for er­rors and test your web­site af­ter you fin­ish build­ing it! Whatever plat­form you choose to build your site should have a built-in pre­view en­vi­ron­ment, or be able to limit ac­cess be­hind a pass­word-pro­tected wall.

Another set of eyes is al­ways a good idea; grab a trusted friend and get them to give your site a good proof­read be­fore go­ing live. The Internet is con­stantly evolv­ing; by check­ing your site on var­i­ous de­vices and browsers you can make sure that your web­site works cor­rectly in all cir­cum­stances (including mo­bile!)

Of course, if you get an ex­ter­nal party to build your web­site for you, they should pro­vide you with User Acceptance Testing (UAT) prior to go-live.

If you want your busi­ness web­site to be suc­cess­ful, first and fore­most, it needs to be de­signed in a way that’s in­tu­itive for your user. Following the 10 tips ex­plained above will help you with this and all the other con­sid­er­a­tions that are needed when de­sign­ing your busi­ness web­site.

As stated be­fore, web­sites are an in­te­gral part of any mod­ern busi­ness strat­egy: they let po­ten­tial cus­tomers see what you do with­out dri­ving them off­site; they help po­ten­tial cus­tomers find in­for­ma­tion quickly; they open up mul­ti­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for leads and sales… the list goes on.

The best part? If DIYing your web­site just is­n’t for you, our team of prod­uct de­sign­ers and de­vel­op­ers are here to help.

Book an oblig­a­tion-free web­site strat­egy ses­sion with us to­day - you won’t re­gret it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Hudson

Digital all-rounder and hater of gluten

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